calligraphy, drawing, graphic design, illustration

leaning toward graphic art

I meant to make this post last night but somehow got sidetracked…

I tried experimenting with my NuPastels.  What it’s told me is that I probably don’t want to be working with pastels so much at this point in time.  My first mistake was using vine charcoal.  It’s been years since I used vine charcoal, so while I was expecting it to smudge, I wasn’t expecting it to have no adhesion whatsoever to the paper.  Which meant that when I was trying to blend colors with my fingertips, the colors kept becoming dirtied with the charcoal, and I kept wiping white areas into the drawing by touching the vine charcoal areas.

After I left the NuPastels for another time…I started drawing in large format with a set of graphite sticks I have.  I believe their brand is Cretacolor Monolith.  I was impressed with these — the tin runs from HB to 9B, and even the HB smudged well, and using the 9B and my Pitt 9B graphite stick (which is slightly closer to black), I was able to attain a good range of tones from light to dark.  Basically, white to almost black.  It was also easier to cover large areas of dark value easily, by using the edge of the graphite stick.  And then I could highlight with an eraser, as the graphite — at least the HB — is very easy to erase, even when used heavily.

Plus then there’s the point of the stick for drawing in detail, and I have a set of freaking tortillons which keep squeaking on the paper and not blending very well (though I did learn how to grind fresh tips on one of these, last night).  The thing I’m missing is my triangular eraser.  I have no idea where my triangular detail eraser went.

I did end up doing a graphic-novel-style character drawing…which is one of my fallbacks when I don’t know what to draw.  I need to work on things which are not people, though, really.  That factor alone is a big reason I haven’t been doing graphic-novel work.  (Though I probably shouldn’t go too deeply into that.)

After I had experimented on these two counts, I used a white calligraphy ink that I had stashed, on top of a rubbed-in charcoal ground.  The ink was very thick and very white.  I used the glass pen that my late grandmother bought for me, which I normally don’t use anymore, because the nib grinds down every time I use it.  But the upshot is that it’s easy to clean — the nib is cylindrical.  I think, though, that that particular calligraphy ink might be best used with a brush, due to its thickness.  I didn’t want to use it with a metal calligraphy nib, because I didn’t want to ruin the nib.  (Calligraphy nibs are two pieces, and it’s difficult to clean the areas where the flats of the pieces touch each other.  I have a jar of Higgins Pen Cleaner, but I don’t know if it will work on an ink that may have some acrylic in it.)

But what that, and subsequent experimentation with a calligraphy nib showed me, though, is that I probably want to get back into calligraphy.  I should probably look for a better book on it.  There’s just a graphic quality to calligraphy that I really, really like.  I also wanted to note that I did also use my glass pen with Higgins Waterproof Black Calligraphy ink, which I believe is the blackest ink I have — and I really liked the results.  So I may be attempting to learn to draw with metal-nibbed pens in the near future.

Doing a quick search, I find a note from 2007 that says Higgins Eternal is fully pigmented ink, while the Calligraphy ink has dye…meaning that the Eternal is more likely to be lightfast.  I’m not sure that in the past I’ve run across a selection of inks where Eternal has actually been on the shelf (as opposed to sold out).

And at this point I believe I’m closer to an illustrator or designer than to a fine artist.  From my work yesterday it’s apparent that markmaking is one of the things I really find enjoyable, high-contrast markmaking in specific — which leads me to believe that drawing (markmaking) and graphic elements are one of the things that really get me going.  And calligraphy seems closer to graphic design than to fine art.  That, combined with my recent work with felt-tip pens and brush pens…also points me in the direction where it seems that I’m drawing with liquid media, not painting with it.

And that in turn really helps me narrow down my options to what I’d be most likely to enjoy.  And if we are loosely considering the possibility of one day going to art school (as I suppose could happen), it’s good to have some direction, prior to entering.

It was refreshing to be able to work on a large format again, and to be able to use my arm gesturally, and vary my grips on my drawing implements.  That’s something I’ve been missing while working in small-scale.  The work I did yesterday shows me where my interests lie, so I’m glad I did it.

painting

errata re: Winsor colors

I really, genuinely need sleep right now, but I’ve been browsing looking at paint colors…and I need to say that my impression of the Winsor colors (Winsor Blue, etc.) was based on an old formulation and with aged paint.  I’ve taken a look at the current Winsor colors (noting there is now a “Green Shade” and “Red Shade” of Winsor Blue, for example), and they do look very nice.

I should be able to put together a basic pack of fresh paints for under $30…I’m guessing it would be best not to try and save too much money on paints and brushes, given that the result is drastically different depending on the quality of the materials.

And my Yasutomo brush does have a good amount of spring, which I found on testing it today.  I also found, though, that there is a very different method to working with the “Oriental” brushes that I was unaware of until today.  So it looks like I should aim for watercolor brushes in the near future.

drawing, fine arts, painting

Books, and finding more stashed paints

Last night I remembered the location of my stash of gouache which I used in my color class.  I went and dug it up, and along with the gouache I found a good little stash of more watercolors.  These are Utrecht brand.

I intended to try out the Utrecht stuff this morning, but personal story aside, I wasn’t able to.  What I do know is that I have some (more) Viridian and a supply of Cadmium Red and Yellow, plus Cobalt Blue.  Thing is that I don’t really want to touch either the cadmium formulations or the cobalt formulations — both of them are toxic and can be absorbed through the skin (as I said before, “Cadmium Yellow Hue“, for example, is not the same thing as “Cadmium Yellow”, and is less toxic).  I had enough of a concern when the water splashed me last time, and the paint was labeled “non-toxic”; I don’t need to be worrying about cadmium or cobalt poisoning.  Especially when I use my hands to clean out my brushes.

But from the base that I have now, I can look at filling out a range of colors.  The paints are, at the moment, somewhere away from the computer, and I’d rather not dirty my hands with them right now…I believe we have a Quinacridone Red (violet-leaning) and I think there was a Permanent Rose in there somewhere.  That gives me two cool tone reds.  The warm tone I’ll have to purchase, because I don’t want to use Cadmium Red.

I believe the pair of reds I was supposed to get for my class were Scarlet (orange overtone) and Crimson (violet overtone).  I’ll need to look at how Quinacridone Red and Perm. Rose compare to Crimson.

There was a Gamboge (yellow) lying around here, but the color is too muted for my purposes — it looks ocher-ish.  I think I’m looking for a Golden Yellow and a Lemon Yellow, in place of either the Gamboge or the Winsor Yellow.  Keeping in mind that the Reeves Lemon Yellow is accessible.

Then there are the blues — and I know for a fact that we have a usable Ultramarine…I’d still have to buy a Phthalo Blue.

So, in order of necessity:

  1. Phthalo Blue
  2. Scarlet
  3. Golden Yellow
  4. Lemon Yellow

So those are mostly warm-leaning tones.

And yes, I did intend to try out the other Reeves colors in addition to the Utrecht colors (which I was reminded of on recalling the Phthalo Blue).

I think that the only other colors I am on the fence about are Sap Green and the earth tones.  Or, tones to mix with other tones to dull them down in a reasonably-controlled manner.  I think Raw Umber was key in that (a mix of Raw Umber and Ultramarine?), though my memory on that point is foggy; I’d need to see the hue to know if that’s the right name.  Mostly I believe we were mixing complementary hues to make chromatic greys.

Today I’ve been reading through a book that someone bought for me called Watercolor 101.  It looks easy enough.  I think that the reason it’s been sitting unused on my shelf so long is that it looked easy enough to be boring.  But it allows the play that I’ve been doing with the watercolors anyway; it just gives more ideas and techniques that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred to me.  What it does say is that I need to find a high-quality cotton rag paper (which won’t fall apart when fully saturated) to play with…and I would not have guessed that I’d need a rag paper to play on.

At dinner I was also looking through a book I bought a year or two ago called Art of Drawing:  The Complete Course.  I think when I was reading this book before, I stopped a page or two before the end of the dry techniques section.  It reminded me of how much I like to play in soft pastels (which, I read, are used to introduce painting to art students).

The major reason I haven’t used soft pastels or chalk since my days in drawing classes is that they’re messy, and once the pigment is breathed in, it stays in one’s lungs instead of breaking down like charcoal (says my old drawing instructor).  So it’s really not a good thing to inhale the dust, and when you’re working, it’s best to tap the dust off of your drawing board and wet-mop the dust up after you’re done.  Of course, though, drawing class was full of people blowing the dust off of their drawing boards…particle masks help, in that situation.  Otherwise, it can get difficult and anxiety-inducing (if you’re like me) to breathe.

In the sense of Prismacolor NuPastels, as well (which may qualify more as “chalk” than “soft pastel”), they’re staining.  I can clearly remember blending colors with my fingers and my fingers being stained blue for a good while after that — no amount of scrubbing would get the blue out.  Everything else washed out.  Not that.  :)

Yes, it made me all proud to be wearing stained fingertips like I was a “real” artist (^_-), but it’s a little worrisome to me as well — because I assume that anything which stains me will be absorbed into me.  Though I do think that NuPastels are supposed to be non-toxic (or as the case may well be, “less toxic”).

Of course, that’s not necessarily the case for the higher grades of soft pastel or chalk.  I would be extremely wary, for example, of a malachite pigment in a soft pastel.  Not to say I don’t think it would be beautiful.  It would be very beautiful.  But that doesn’t mean I want to be rubbing it into my skin.  (Malachite is a soft, intensely green mineral which I’ve been told, contains asbestos fibers…)

I want to pick up a book on painting so that I can see the difference between the mindsets of painting and drawing.  Because pastels can be used to paint, and inks and watercolor can be used to draw (with brushes, even!).  So what then distinguishes painting from drawing, if not the medium?  Art of Drawing acknowledges that drawing is different from painting in a way that is not medium-dependent, but so far as I’ve read, they never go deeply enough into painting to really elucidate what the difference is between painting and drawing.  They simply define “drawing,” without defining “painting.”

So far as I can tell, the use of line (or markmaking), value gradations (as in wash or chiaroscuro), and monochrome distinguishes drawing.  I know now that I want to use color — it makes things come alive.  But you can draw with color as well, so again things become blurred.

I want to know whether I want to pursue painting or drawing, and it’s hard to know that when you don’t know the definition of one of the two categories.  I suppose it did take me a while, though, to learn just what made an image “graphic” (as in “graphic design”), and that just took a lot of exposure and absorption and experience…

The last part of this entry is just to note that I’ve realized the use of “springiness” in a given brush.  The Richeson synthetic flat brush that I mentioned yesterday has a good amount of spring to it.  The Chinese and Japanese brushes that I have used, which are natural-hair, not so much.  So it can be harder to get a good amount of line variation out of them.

I have a high-quality round synthetic brush here which is very springy.  Though I didn’t use it last time I was playing around with watercolors (it is one of those brushes which is so nice you don’t want to use it, for risk of messing it up), I’m sure that I’d be easily able to achieve a wide range of line variation with it.  It’s something to try next time.

creative writing, fine arts, painting, spirituality

watercolor experimentation

I experimented with the Talens Angora watercolors today, as well as with a new set of someone else’s Reeves tube watercolors, and what I found of leftover Winsor and Newton (I think) Cotman watercolors.  I could be wrong though, and at least some of the latter watercolors could have been straight W&N (not the student-grade Cotmans).

EDIT:  All of the W&N colors I was using besides Winsor Blue and Winsor Yellow were Cotmans.

Let me say right here that the difference is drastic.  Working from a wetted dry pan (not a wetted semi-moist pan), as I did with the Angora watercolors…it really makes the hue of the color one can pick up very light.  A deep shade is just not what I’m going to get out of them, at least with a single application, because I don’t feel like digging the pigment up with the tip of my brush.  Basically, the tablets don’t want to release the pigment into the water — which I suppose is an argument for semi-moist pans (but most of all for tubes).

The Reeves were better in terms of pigment density and ease of use, but I wouldn’t use them for deep shades if I could help it, because their pigment density is less than the W&N.  More comes in a tube, but the value is effectively reduced because most of that extra space seems to be taken up by things that aren’t pigment.

On the other hand, I did try the Reeves Lemon Yellow, which produced a very bright, clean blue-leaning yellow, which faded very brilliantly and seemingly seamlessly to white as the paint ran out on my brush.  I can definitely see the value in getting a pigment which is very light in value in a less-expensive formulation — if you want that gradual fade-to-white and don’t mind a lower concentration of pigment.

With the W&N, I was basically dealing with a very old (as in probably at least a decade old) Winsor Yellow which looked dirty in the tube and basically was quite dark and “muddy” in comparison, when it was applied.  I don’t know if this is because I needed to dilute it a lot more with cleaner water, or if it’s because it’s old and had started to decompose, or if it’s because Winsor Yellow is aiming for a “typical” yellow…but the effect wasn’t all that appealing.

But then with Winsor Red, Blue, and Yellow, I find that the hues seem to be aiming for a “typical”, recognizable red, blue, or yellow which is neutral in its leaning toward color overtones.  The colors which come out of this process are not very appealing to me…and I’m not sure of their practical use in color mixing.

It seems that because (at least, as best I can recall — I couldn’t get the screw-cap off of the Winsor Red) the Winsor primaries are overtone-neutral, this means that they would make a duller shade no matter what they were mixed with.  For example, the Winsor Blue is a little green, a little violet; combined, the two overtones make the color duller (that is, there is the addition of a chromatic grey), and you have that extra overtone in whatever you’re mixing the blue with.  If you want to make green with it, you’ve still got that little bit of violet; and if you want violet out of it, you’ve still got a little bit of green.  So some bit of chromatic grey is unavoidable.

But then, I’m not a professional, so if you’re going to accept this at all, take it with a bit of salt.

I think I’m going to try out the Reeves again when I can — I believe I only used Phthalocyanine Blue (I hope I spelled that correctly) and Lemon Yellow — as when I tried the Phthalo Blue, the color was much less dense than the W&N Ultramarine (anything, you say, would look pale next to Ultramarine).  I didn’t try out the Reeves Ultramarine; at the point that I saw the drastic difference in color density, I backed off and started trying to mix colors with the W&N more.

After I got a bit of the tube paint onto my palette, things seemed to go pretty smoothly, so far as remembering how to use the stuff went.  I just wish I knew how to use less of it and still be effective with it.

So far as brushes went — there are a number of round brushes I have access to, a couple of which I used.  But probably my favorite from this last practice round would have been a 1/2″ flat synthetic brush — I think a very old Jack Richeson — because it allowed me to make a calligraphic line (which the round brushes did not, though I did not try my hardest to vary line width with them, and my hand and arm are still used to drawing [firm pressure], not painting [hovering hand]).  Second favorite would have been my liner, which I picked up a long time ago just because its price was drastically cut and I had visions of using it for inking comics.

I don’t think I’m going to be going the comic route, though.  Not at the moment.  I’m feeling much more fulfilled playing around with colors, and I’ve heard it can be a tricky thing to reproduce colors which one can see in paints or otherwise in the “real world”, in print or on the computer screen.  From my (few) days in Graphic Design, I seem to recall this as well.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t illustrate and paint and draw for personal fulfillment.

And besides — by now I know that doing the visual arts does something in my mind — it helps me connect ideas that I wouldn’t have connected (at least, as quickly) on my own, and it stimulates the drive to write.  There is nothing which says I cannot have a story in my mind and illustrate it (using the term “illustrate” very loosely), and gain personal development from it.  And I suppose I should state to myself that this is not a waste of time, even if I don’t do a graphic novel.  And — it would be a lot of work to both write and illustrate a graphic novel.

There’s got to be some way that the narratives, and the personal development, and the art, are connected.  I just haven’t figured it out, yet.  I suppose that’s where faith helps; when you know there’s something more going on, but your mind isn’t powerful enough to work out just what, yet.

drawing, fine arts, graphic design, painting

pens and thoughts on watercolors

Besides what I’ve mentioned in the prior entry…I picked up some little colored fineliners today which I’ve been coloring with for a while.  :)  I picked up a different orange than I intended to (it’s closer to red with a hint of orange), but it’s actually working out pretty well.  The orange which I intended to pick up would have been more expensive and also closer to the tone of the orange I definitely knew I was getting.  So now I have some Staedtlers (I’m just in love with Staedtler, I’m sorry), and a few Stabilos which I picked up because their color was nice.  These were around $1 a piece.

This is continuing the thread which I started with getting together with someone who encouraged me to draw.  The fineliners are really good for small detail work — where you need hard, sharp lines.  I did eventually get into the place, today, where I probably should have been using the bullet point on a Tombow or something — I was coloring in big areas of color with fineliners (!) and I don’t know how long they will continue to last if I continue to do that.  But I did happen to uncover an image which will look very good in a larger format, and which will look very different in different color schemes.  It’s excellent for gouache, as none of the color blocks touch each other.

So while I was at the art store…I was looking over the watercolors and the acrylics.  I think that for now, I’ll stick with watercolors (and gouache), and just try a different working method, which I’ve been practicing with my markers and colored pencils…just…not exactly the same.  :)  This involves using some of my very hard and light pencils to draw in an underpainting, so I know where the highlights are, prior to beginning.  Watercolors are much less expensive than acrylics, as well; so now I suppose I do know why many people start out in them, despite my personal belief that they’re more difficult to work with than acrylics.  I did happen to pick up a pad of two-ply Bristol Board which should suffice for exploratory ventures into watercolor, on a medium which won’t destroy fine detail.

…I wonder how it would look if I painted over transparent watercolors with gouache (which is opaque)?  I should keep that thought in mind, not count it out.  Just like I should not count out using watercolor pencils or watercolor sticks.

I mentioned that I picked up the Talens Angora watercolors last month, which ran about $6 for twelve pans.  I still haven’t used them, it has been somewhat intimidating; but I realized while looking back over recent work with the fineliners, that I needed to start working with the watercolors the way I started working with the fineliners.  I need to play around with the watercolors without a solid design in mind, most of all so I can find out how they behave.  So I suppose that should be coming up, soon.  (I have realized that a lot of what I set out to do, I do actually get around to — though that can be hard to see without records.)  I am relatively new to using brushes, so I suspect there will be a learning curve.  But at least I have access to a usable set of watercolor brushes.

drawing, illustration, sequential art, writing

minor update — overall, trying to work out how to express creativity

The initial reason I wanted to post here was to remind myself that the Pantone markers don’t smudge the Staedtler Duo brush marker I’d been using.  I didn’t try marking with a very light Pantone on top of a black Duo — not yet.  Major reason is that I don’t want to ruin my lightest Pantone.  But the Pantones are alcohol-based.  The Duos are water-based.  So it doesn’t seem to especially matter whether I ink first and then color, or color and then ink, as the solvents are different.  But I still have to really test that out fully.  I did also try using a (waterproof) Pitt brush marker for inking, and it isn’t as effective when it comes to variation in line width — or maybe I’m just too heavy-handed with it.

I did produce another image of a character I came up with a while ago; I was in the headspace of thinking about Sanatana Dharma while producing her image.  I have a working name for her now, though I probably shouldn’t share it, in case I start using it in anything that eventually goes public.  Before I get into anything else, I should say that I’ve had to hold the brush pens vertically to ink hair and to use the Duo for outlines.

I’m wondering how to balance out my creativity…to what extent I express what is going on in my mind — to what extent I draw and to what extent I write.  If I keep the story in my mind or if I draw it out or write it down.

I did find a copy of The Artist’s Way which I started looking over, though that is more of a course in reviving one’s creativity.  Apparently I got to the second section and stopped.

The other things I’ve been doing — I’ve designed an image for use as a stamp, and tried cutting it out of something which feels like a gum eraser.  I think it’s actually too soft to make a good stamp, as its surface rubs away too easily.  I can try with a larger image and my carving set from high school on something more like linoleum.

Then there was the drawing with the colored brush pens that I did while playing around on the phone, which more vividly resembles Graphic Design work.  But I’ve really got to go now — I can continue this later.

drawing, writing

working again with colored pencils

Well, today I got xeroxes done of the majority of interesting pages in one coloring book.  This should hold me for a good, long time.

I also started coloring in one of them, using my…large supply of colored pencils.  I have both Prismacolors and Faber-Castell colored pencils — the drawing pencils I have are very waxy and I think too muted for at least this image.  The two different brands I mentioned have different working properties.  In particular, the Faber-Castells are “creamier” — they’re oil-based, instead of wax-based like the Prismacolors.  But there’s no reason I can’t use the two together.

I initially picked up my starter set of Faber-Castells some years ago, before they did the color range expansion.  I think there are 120 different colors now instead of 100?  Anyway, in my set, they give at least two different versions of each primary color, then some secondary colors — the ones which are more lightfast, at least — and earth tones, plus a couple of greys, and black, possibly white.  (I know for a fact that this is  not the color range of the 24-set now.)  From having taken a color theory class I now know why there are two of each primary — it’s to keep the tones brilliant even when they’re mixed to form a secondary color.  If you want a green, for example — mixing a green-leaning yellow with a green-leaning blue will give a more brilliant green color than an orange-leaning yellow with a violet-leaning blue.  The extra orange and purple tones in each of the hues being used will mix, and result in a “muddier” shade.  Sometimes that’s wanted, but much of the time not.  ;)

I had thought that the Prismacolors had more “bright” tones, as contrasted with the Faber-Castells.  I’m not so sure that’s true, anymore.  Of course, my Prismacolors are largely even older than my Faber-Castells, so it’s feasible to say that perhaps they have dulled over the years.  I might be able to find out by seeing if the colors are more vibrant where they haven’t been directly exposed to air or light…but to be honest I’m not sure about them.  I can’t even remember how old I was when I got my first Prismacolors…and I know that many of my current collection are the originals.  I suppose if I really want to know, I have an X-Acto; I can take a cross-section.

But despite this, I have been having good luck with delicate shading.  It’s easier to work from light to dark when you have such direct, precise control over what you’re doing, and I am quite good with being delicate with pencils.  I think the non-objective aspect of what I’m coloring very much helps with this as well, as things do not have to be, well, “rendered” so exactly as they would if I were drawing something that would be compared to something actually existent.  That is, there is no pressure towards photorealism here, which I love.  And, you know, maybe that’s also a reason to stay out of classes, besides my GPA being at risk.  There is just so much pressure that I’ve found both in writing classes and in drawing classes, at least, to push one towards reproducing reality.

Sometimes reproducing reality is not the point, though.  And sometimes the pressure to do so is harmful to what really does want to come out, because then you start thinking about how real you can make it look, how believable it is.  Then when you get into the place where from investigation into the project’s own structure, you “know” it isn’t believable, and you know where all the holes are — it can cause you to lose faith in the entire project.  But the proof of a piece of art or fiction isn’t in its logical coherence.  That’s just the surface.  There’s something beyond that, I haven’t been able to name it or pin it down yet; but to me…as someone mystically-inclined, I can see it is much more important than surface details.

It’s just that every class I’ve taken in art or writing, besides the Graphic Design ones, and Ceramics…have emphasized photorealism, or “writing from experience”.  Which leads to a lot of reproduction of what already exists, to avoid getting into the rather unexplored territory of how not to do things the way one learned in class, and still be successful in one’s endeavors.  And by “successful” I don’t mean “making a lot of money.”  I mean “communicating,” and though that can be extrapolated out into “communicating what one intended to communicate,” I believe the latter statement to be fairly well impossible, due to the subjective nature of art.  The most you can ask, perhaps, is to be able to touch others…hopefully in ways that benefit them.

I’ve been inspired a bit recently to continue reading the Art History text I never finished.  There is a Renaissance design or two in one of the books I have access to, which has gotten me interested in that period.  And after this, maybe it would be good to study Islamic designs…if we’re going for the nonobjective angle.  I’ve also recently become interested in Hindu Goddess worship (I have access to many yantras via one of my books, which also gives some notes that the designs are taken out of their cultural context while providing a taste of same), but I won’t get into…coloring sacred designs, until I have firmer grounding in the religious/mystical context they originate in.  But the yantras are very beautiful, and peaceful-seeming.  I had been interested in Saivism, but Mahadevi worship…if it is called that, I am piecing together what I know of Sanskrit…it seems as though being female-centered may be more peace-generating for me.  Of course, still knowing that all is One…

Both the yantras and the many Islamic designs I’ve found, especially on viewing things like the Alhambra — do have the effect of calming and touching me.  And though I know that my experience is specific to me, I do consider these works successful, just because they were successful in eliciting a healing response.

To get back to the ‘practice’ section of this post…the very very bright colors in my Faber-Castell collection are good for adding specific elements of color.  I have this one particularly bright green which would be very loud on its own, but when added to an already existent buildup of colors, it provides very clean, bright color.  It provides a good punch of green and yellow without a lot of grey.  The same thing I’ve found with my Canary Yellow Prismacolor — it is pale on its own, just enough to add a mood, but added to an existing yellow-leaning ground, it enhances the colors it’s applied over.

I didn’t have a lot of time to work on this tonight, I did more reading and cooking; but I do have something to note from when I talked to someone (who should know what they’re talking about) recently about my Process White.  They say that they think it is called “Process White” because it’s the same type of ink used in offset printing, which is good to know.  I wanted to know if it was lightfast or not, and I suppose I can now hold a tentative working assumption that it is not.  I do have a good amount of white gouache that I can use for anything not requiring a pen application.

The other thing — I picked up a yellow Tombow today.  XD

I should really get some rest now!  :)

drawing, fine arts, painting, sequential art

amateur painting thoughts

Haven’t been working on the sewing so much, recently.  Too many pressures on my time and too many options, I think.

I did pick up a coloring book to work in — or at least to xerox the blank pages out of so that I can color on them.   :)  Given my fine motor skills, I could probably also reproduce them by hand with a compass and a pencil, eraser and pen.  I got this because I’ve been inspired to get back into 2-D art again, and it seems like a good start.  Right now I have a lot of colored pencils and drawing pencils, and almost a full spectrum of brush pens (I’m still lacking a [warm] yellow).  I just need to figure out a way to use them.

I also came into contact with a graphic novel recently, which has got me thinking on doing watercolor work again.  The thing is that, for one thing, it’s been so long since I’ve worked with (transparent) pan or tube watercolors that I’m not entirely confident that I still even *know* how  to use them.  I got a cheap pan set for about $6 (Aurora; the pans look unfortunately like Pez) to play around and experiment with as I get my legs back.  But I still haven’t used it.  I should also note here so I don’t forget:  I also have a small new jar of Process White for illustrations, and there are some older tube watercolors and a lot of my old gouaches here, plus the semi-moist Prang stuff from when I was a kid (which is, at least, free).  The gouache is likely to be more viable than the watercolor, but at least there’s the possibility of the option there.

Hmm.  So maybe for now I should put the sewing away, just so it doesn’t get dusty while I’m not working on it?  I need to wind a new bobbin, too.  The next step in the trial blouse is gathering up the sleeve caps, which is kind of intimidating.  But, tangent.

The hardest part of this for me at this point in my life is trying to figure out what to paint or draw.  I’m not a type of person who really wants to paint landscapes.  Still-lifes are all right, kind of boring, but good for practice.  I still haven’t found a place to settle as regards…well, my own style.  My illustration style is getting more settled, but to be realistic with that, I’ve been working on illustration-style drawing for well over a decade…  What I want to do is to be able to draw scenes out of my mind and draw or paint them; or to communicate an internal state visually (which can be totally non-objective painting).  If gouache didn’t lift so easily, it might be the perfect medium for this.  But as it is, unless I use some type of medium to alter the paint/water mixture (so it turns into “glaze”, I take it, though I’m not too familiar with this), it’s going to take more visual pre-planning than I’ve ever done before, just because you can’t paint lots of layers of gouache on top of each other without pulling up the underlayers.  And, of course, regular watercolors are transparent, so things like washes show through unless an opaque ground is painted on before the object in question.

Maybe I should be looking into acrylics instead of watercolors, eh?  The only problem with that is that…well, in the past I thought that you couldn’t paint on watercolor paper with acrylic, but now I’ve read you can?  I could try light work as with watercolor, but let the paint dry to a film and then work over it.  :)  Which actually sounds good…but I’d have to think about that.  I’m not too sure if I’d have to gesso watercolor paper, or not.

I could use the acrylic, to be short, like watercolor, but with the advantage of being able to work over an area very many times.  And I suppose I could just use the disposable palette.  In a tactile manner it seems as though it would be very different, using acrylic/oil brushes instead of the soft watercolor ones I’m used to.  And working on a textured base like canvas (as I could), instead of paper.  Hmm.  Or I could work on hardboard or canvas board…which is really not an option with watercolor, is it?

I never really got used to the idea of painting from light to dark, which is my major problem.  And I’m more spontaneous and fluid with my envisioning of my paintings or drawings, as versus having the thing planned out before I begin.  I know that after practice, I can get into the zone where I can see what I want to paint or draw before I make a mark; but that’s generally for localized areas.  And then sometimes things change as I’m drawing, or I can see that something’s not right, and I alter it; which then flows into a running narrative, which is a large part of why I’ve been interested in sequential art.

I almost named this entry so that it would have something to do with thoughts on color, but I suppose that is almost assumed when one is working with paint, isn’t it?

I should get some rest…my back is tensing.

fiber arts

progress…sometimes you can’t see it, but there is progress…

It’s amazing how when I’ve followed pattern instructions, the resulting fabric turns out nearly exactly like the photographs.  That likely won’t be the case all the time, from what I’ve read.  Or maybe it will, and the photos are at a bad angle.

Have I just been lucky?  (Or unlucky, if I thought it would turn out better than the photo?  Or if the photo didn’t really show how poorly insulating the final product would be?)

I’m really glad I picked up those books.  It actually helps, a lot.  I think I have the American version of the knit stitch down.  I’m working on the American version of purling.  It just gets so repetitive sometimes (along with the uncertainty that comes with learning) that it gets boring, even though I *am* learning something.  I’ve gone back to working on the crochet out of boredom, but I suppose maybe this just says that I’m getting to the point where I don’t have to do straight garter stitch anymore.

I was working on a swatch which began as garter stitch (k) with all stitches twisted — this is before I figured out that it was the wording of how to do the knit stitch that was difficult to understand, and that because I was following what I thought they said, not what the picture showed, my fabric was physically twisting to the right.  It took comparison among four different sources to make sure that the image wasn’t wrong.  Then when I did what the graphic said, I could see how what the picture showed could be described in the words I’d hitherto misunderstood.

It’s kind of weird when you get to a certain point in your life, and instead of being the “smart kid” who has all the answers, you end up being a person who very definitely does *not* have all the answers.  Adjustment period.

Anyhow, the positive thing about having done that swatch is that I don’t think I missed any stitches (except for once, I had 12, until I cast on 4 more stitches and made it 16) though I did have to pull out several because I did something wrong and I didn’t know what it was.  That gave me practice with individually undoing loops — which wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be.  Just thread the tip of the left needle into the space where the yarn comes out, then when the stitch is slipped, pull the extra loop out.  Not hard…

I got my 20%-off coupon for the yarn store in the mail today.  Hahahahaha.  I should figure out the project I want to work on next, before I buy expensive yarn, though.  And I should probably finish my blanket and this cowl I’m working on.  I want to make something that will be somewhat functional, not just decorative.

I had been thinking about making something with mohair, but if I use the pattern I have, I’d need to xerox it and take it to the yarn store with me, so I know I’m getting the right weight of yarn.  As I recall…I think they had three different types of mohair last I checked.  Maybe I’ll work on that.  I could do one of the lace capelet patterns I have.  Only problem is that I may need giant needles…ugh.  Though maybe it won’t be as much of a pain as using a too-big hook.  The only thing is that I have no idea how I’m supposed to weave in a tail if what I’m making is lace.

Oh, right.  I want to learn the cable cast-on method and the long-tail cast on.  I know where I can find directions for the first; though maybe there’s another copy closer than I think.

I guess that’s about it.  I’m trying not to get too discouraged with the Wool-Eater blanket.  It’s just that it’s becoming so hard to see it growing that it gets a bit tiring.  Plus, I don’t know how long my yarn will hold out.  I did some calculations and apparently, even though I have most of a skein, I’m going to have to break a new one to finish this row of diamonds?  I can’t help but feel (or hope) that my calculations are off…I haven’t had to do math in so long.  And I really wanted to end the blanket on a maroon or navy row, not on green.  It makes a big difference to the way the entire thing looks.

I guess maybe I should stop worrying and just keep going and buy a new skein or two if I need them…and just rip out one or two rows so there isn’t a noticeable color change.  The worry is paralyzing, and I want to get this done sometime.  Sis said that I could stop at a certain number of rows and just add on to two sides to make the thing rectangular, which isn’t a bad idea.  I’d have to work out *how* to do that, though.

I suppose I could do gradual decreases and have the blanket come to one or two points…I could practice with the trial square I made and that bright green Vanna’s Choice that I got for some reason.

There’s the not-knowing-when-my-dye-lots-end-thing, and the fact that the yarn is cheap.  Big project, cheap yarn.  Kind of bites.  Not a pleasure to work with, aside from the color.  When I wash it, it’s supposed to soften.

(“You just keep telling yourself that…”)